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September 21, 1955 - Image 47

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1955-09-21

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21,1955

THE MCHIGAN DAILY

21, 1955 TIlE MICHIGAN DAILY

WrestlersCaptureBig 10 Title

BY JOHN HILLYER
There's much more to the manly
art of wrestling than grunting and
groaning, as Michigan's 1955 squad
so thoroughly demonstrated.
Coach Cliff Keen's surprising
heroes came from virtually no-
where to take the Western Con-
ference wrestling title in as dra-
matic finale as has been seen in
many years.
Start With Win
The season got off to a fine
start, from a Michigan point of
view, at the important Wilkes Col-
lege Open Tournament, held an-
nually over Christmas vacation at
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. This
meet consistently draws over 300
participants, representing over 50
different organizations, and is rec-
ognized as the nation's biggest
invitational tournament.
All the Michigan entrants did
was to place four men in the finals
and two others in consolation
matches to amass an amazing total
of 63 points, good for first place.
Probably the greatest individual
accomplishment of the meet was
Michigan's feat of qualifying both
men for the final match in one
division. In the 147-pound class,
Don Haney, who went on to a per-
fect unbeaten season, whipped
Wolverine teammate and Captain
Andy Kaul for the championship
* in that division in a wild title
match. It was Kaul's first loss in
almost two years of intercollegiate
competition.
Other Maize rand Blue perform-
ers were junior Frank Hirt and
sophomore Max Pearson, both of
whom reached 'the finals before
losing, and 157-pounder Mike Rod-
riguez and 123-pounder Dan Dep-
pe, both of whom reached and won
consolation matches to take thirds.
Win Dual Opener
The dual-meet season opened on
the first Saturday after Christmas
vacation with a seemingly impossi-
ble obstacle in the form of the
Big Ten champs of 1954--Purdue's
Boilermakers. But the scrappy
Michigan grapplers scored an over-
whelming 28-7 triumph, winning
all but two of the eight matches.
Deppe, Kaul, Haney and Rodriguez
all pinned their opponents, and at
this point, Michigan seemed to
have all the potential of a Big
Ten championship squad.
Between semesters, the Wolver-

DON HANEY MIKE RODRIGUEZ
... undefeated champion . .. new captain

ines continued to impress, scoring
wins over Indiana, 22-8, and Pitts-
burgh, 17-9. Pitt was Michigan's
closest rival in the Wilkes-Barre
meet, finishing 11 points behind
the winner, and this meet served
:the purpose of proving to the Pan-
thers that the earlier defeat was
no fluke. Pittsburgh is a perennial
Eastern power.
Illinois Surprises
The second semester then moved
in, however, and with it came
events of near-disastrous propor-
tions. The inspired Ann Arborites,
riding high and possibly intoxi-
cated. by their own success, ran
headlong into a tough crew from
Illinois, and the always-dangerous
Champaign entry burst Michigan's
bubble with a bitterly-contested
14-11 conquest.
This defeat, coming on the first
day of the new term, seemed to
stem from the Illini's discovery of
the Wolverines' big weakness. Cliff
Keen's men, accustomed to an ag-
gressive, swiftly-moving style of
attack, found that the Orange
and Blue insisted upon cramping
their style with a methodic, slow-
moving, defensive approach.
Only Kaul and Haney remained
unbeaten in dual-meet competition
with decisions over their oppon-
ents. Deppe, carrying an excellent
record into the meet of three
consecutive falls,'was outpointed,

5-3, by Illinois' Dick Meeks. Frank
Hirt, the Wolverines' adept 130-
pounder, was held to a tie by Illini
Norb Sargent.
McMahon Returns
The only encouragement on the
Michigan side of things, except for
Kaul and Haney victories, was the
return to form of 177-pound John
McMahon. McMahon, sidelined by
injury for much of the season up
to that point, came through with
an impressive victory over Steve
Szabo of Illinois.
The following Saturday found
the Wolverines at Iowa City to
compete against one of the pre-
season favorites - the powerful
Iowa Hawkeyes. And a powerful
aggregation they turned out to be,
dealing Michigan a crushing 24-5
setback.
The Iowans won six of eight
matches and tied in another, Han-
ey emerging as the only victorious
Wolverine, still undefeated. Kaul's
dual-meet string was snapped by
Hawkeye Jerry Salmon, 8-2.
About-Face
Also a discouragement was Mc-
Mahon, who demonstrated a com-
plete about-face from his fine form
against Illinois in the previous
meet. The 177-pounder was pinned
in just 53 seconds by Leroy Berry-
hill. The fiery Rodriguez also bow-
ed in the 167-pound division to the

Big Ten's defending champion,
flashy John Winder.
The Illinois and Iowa matches
combined, however, seemingly
made the Michigan wrestlers aware
of the fact that it would be tough
going from then on. The following
Saturday at Evanston they gave
Northwestern's squad a thorough
lesson, 21-8, and closed the dual-
meet campaign the week after with
a resounding 27-5 humiliation of
Ohio State.
The stage was set. The following
week end-March 4-5-the Big
Ten Championships were held at
Minneapolis. Iowa entered as the
heavy favorite, and justly so. But
it was Cliff Keen's thirtieth year
as head of Michigan wrestling, and
the boys were determined to make
it a happy one.
Four Big Ten Champs
And a joyous occasion it was.
The fired-up Wolverines came up
with four Western Conference
champions-Pearson, Kaul, Haney
and Rodriguez, to nip the second-
place Iowa contingent, 50-46.
In addition to these tour, valu-
able points were also gained by
Deppe, who took third in the 123-
pound class, and Tom Krause, who
placed fourth in the 177-pound
division.
Michigan's four winners were its
only finalists, however, and when
Rodriguez pinned Jerry Seel5er of
Wisconsin in 4:44, three matches
remained, with Iowans in all three,
fchigan having finished its com-
petition and registered its 50
points.
The drama of the situation was
tremendous, with the Michigan
participants cheering on the
Hawkeye's foes. And they came
through, with Larry Ten Pas of
Illinois defeating Harlan Jenkin-
son -for the 167-pound title, and
Wisconsin's Bob Konovsky whip-
ping Ken Leuer for the heavy-
weight crown. Only John Winder
among the three Hawkeyes was a
winner, beating Dick Anthony of
Indiana for the 177-pound su-
premacy. It wasn't enough.
Thus Keen, one of the country's
foremost wrestling mentors, came
up with his fifthBig Ten champion
to help climax one of the most
interesting winters in the history
of Michigan sports.

.4

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